03/22/08 — Does this mean we’re hippies?

As a way to be frugal, we’ve been doing things that could certainly be considered hippie:

  • I just made a batch of homemade granola for the week, complete w/nuts and berries bought in bulk @Costco. I’ve been going to Costco to stock up on things we use all the time, plus milk, bread, and eggs are super-cheap there. Of course super-cheap means what was the full price @a grocery store a year ago.
  • I’m learning how to bake bread, which is certainly a challenge because our oven sucks. I started this week by making carrot cake muffins, which I’ve been keeping in the freezer and bringing in to work for breakfast.
  • I’m also learning to make my own vinegar from leftover wine.
  • We wash and reuse plastic bags, though they get tossed if we marinate meat in them.
  • We have hard water @home, so I’ve made my own dishwasher soap from a mix of Borax and baking soda, with a few drops of tea tree oil thrown in.
  • I’ve also been shunning expensive cleaners in favor of white vinegar.
  • We’re the only ones on our block who recycle, much less compost (which is almost ready for planting). I even bring home things from work like cardboard boxes and recycle them @home. Our neighbors? They regularly leave 1/2 full cans of Coke and bottled water in the parking lot and let their Volvos, motorcycles, and SUV’s run idle for insane periods of time (as in an hour or even more).

I’m reluctant to call myself a hippie, though. Trust me, I’m well-versed in hippie. I went to Hampshire College, briefly. I lived in Santa Cruz, not-so-briefly. I’ve always thought that most hippies, while well-meaning, come off as self-righteous and dogmatic. If you want evidence of self-righteous hippiedom, just stop by the Whole Foods near American University and observe.

But as long as there are things like this in the neighborhood grocery store:

frozen oatmeal

(Yup, oatmeal’s in the freezer section.)

I guess I’m a hippie. Granted, this is steel-cut oatmeal which takes longer to cook, but give me a break! Frozen oatmeal? Oatmeal is the easiest thing to make as well as dirt cheap. I go through a can of rolled oats every 2-3 weeks, depending on how much granola I make. The whole can is $1.25, or 9.6 cents a serving! A handful of nuts, raisins, honey, and cinnamon will add a few cents. Making oatmeal from scratch probably takes less time than re-heating a bowl of the frozen stuff.

Compared to a culture fed by instameals, we’ve been practicing conspicuous alt-consumption. I don’t see this stopping once we finally have a decent down payment for a house, which was the catalyst for the frugality. But neither my fianceé nor I will ever grow dreadlocks.